October 22, 2009

On the subject of Branding

An interesting dialogue recently where I work about Branding. Our CCO and his team walked us through a client-tested framework that works elegantly. There are many thoughts and models on this subject, including one of my 'personal' favourites. What was interesting about the methodology presented was its simplicity and 'hook'. It breaks down like this:

Branding is important:
  • It's difficult to control Brand image, particularly in the age of Social Web. As Blast Radius said last year: "...it means customers are listening to each other, not you."
  • And, if you don't work to define your Brand, your competitors will do it for you
Branding is like a 'Fingerprint':

The analogy is that there are few types of
Fingerprint variables, but when combined together give Fingerprints - like Brands - a unique identity. An identity, both as an enterprise and in the 'minds and hearts' of consumers.

Brand Fingerprint Analysis:
  1. Logic: This speaks to the product's features, benefits and physicality. What does the product do, and how can we sell it? This is defined by the company itself.
  2. Personality: This speaks to how those features and benefits are communicated to the consumer. How does the company (and their agency) tell a story?
  3. Emotion: This is the kicker. How do your customers 'feel' about your Brand? Who are they? This you cannot control. They either trust you, or they don't. For online in particular, user interviews and Persona creation are critical.
All of this analysis comes from internal stakeholder interviews - from the Boardroom down - by asking a simple question: "What does 'Brand X' mean to you?". At the same time, market research is required with users/customers.

The Payoff:
When complete, we arrive at both an internal and external 'MindMap' of the Brand as well as practical things like a messaging hierarchy (right message, right audience, right time), Branding guidelines, and finally, tactical execution. By tactics, we mean logo, tags, payoffs, etc.

The point of all of this is that the Brand starts from what the company does and what it projects itself to be. Ultimately however, the Brand is not 'you'. Your brand is your customers 'gut feel' and what they think about you.

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